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The American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union joined forces with the El Reno FFA Chapter on June 11 to help pick up tornado debris from wheat fields in El Reno and Union City.

EL RENO – American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) joined forces with the El Reno FFA Chapter on June 11 to help change the course of the 2013 wheat harvest for producers in the Heaston area. Located just a few miles southwest of El Reno, the area’s farmers and ranchers were hit hard by the May 31 tornado outbreak.

The AFR/OFU and El Reno FFA event brought in several groups including 15 FFA chapters from across Oklahoma and many AFR/OFU employees, insurance agents and cooperative members. The day was part of a bigger volunteer effort called "Field of TEAMS." The effort works to clean up tornado debris in fields and rural roadways. Volunteers work in groups, meticulously combing fields for debris, everything from small boards to whole sheets of tin.

"It can be easy to overlook tornado damage to agricultural areas because a field is not a home," said AFR/OFU President Terry Detrick. "But what people don’t realize is that these fields are a ‘place of business.’ Without a wheat crop, farmers lose a major portion of their income."

Wheat harvest is fast-approaching and many farms are still clogged with debris from surrounding structures. Sheets of tin, wood planks, shingles, insulation, fencing and other types of debris litter the otherwise harvestable fields. Tornado debris poses a great risk to producers—debris found by a wheat combine instead of a volunteer could result in thousands of dollars in damage to valuable harvest equipment.

"We hope to give farmers and ranchers in this area a little piece of mind," said Detrick. "Cleaning up fields can take a lot of time and money. Insurance does not cover the cost of field clean-up and farmers certainly don’t have time right as they deal with damage to their homes and farm structures."

The AFR/OFU and El Reno FFA day made a significant impact in the tornado relief effort. More than 250 volunteers from southeast Texas, several Midwestern states and all across Oklahoma cleaned-up well over 400 acres of now-harvestable farm land.

The help came right on time—harvest crews were already lining up waiting for clean fields.

American Farmers & Ranchers was established in 1905 and is headquartered in Oklahoma City. Affiliated with Oklahoma Farmers Union, AFR is actively supportive of Oklahoma’s agricultural industry and rural population, and provides educational, legislative, and cooperative programs across the state.

AFR provides its insurance products statewide, and is recognized as a leading domestic insurance carrier in the state of Oklahoma.

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